Friday, January 14, 2011

4 Guys and a website

The "Anglican Communion Institute", which sounds like it must be important, but has often been described as 4 or 5 guys and a website, has spoken/written yet again. Unlike their usual prolix and scholarly appearing offerings, their recent publication is shorter and clearer (click here) - and, not unusually, contains a fundamental error (or two).

Writing about the upcoming meeting of the Primates (head bishops) of the Anglican Communion and the potential for some to boycott the meeting (some apparently don't want to get girl cooties from our Presiding Bishop Katharine or be associated with a church that would dare to accept gay and lesbian folk as full members of the church), the writers several times refer to the Primates Meeting as a "council". Of course, the word "council" has a very specific connotation in Christian discourse. One is clearly put in mind of the official and historic Councils of the Church, broad/universal gatherings of bishops to see to fundamental matters of faith and meaning for the Church - Councils of the Church that gave us the Creed, the definition of the nature of Christ, that proclaimed Mary to be the Theotokos, the Mother of God. By contrast, the Primates Meeting began all the way back in the 1970's (!) as an occasional gathering for conversation and mutual support of the head bishops of Anglican provinces who shared a particular ministry and set of responsibilities. Hardly the next of the great Ecumenical Councils of the Church. Strangely enough, in the course of the current Anglican Communion conflicts the Primates Meeting has been proclaimed (by some) to be an "Instrument of Communion", something to be listened to, even obeyed.

Furthermore, the ACI actually claims, " One ought properly to conclude that just one Primate not appearing is a terrible thing." Why? The truth is that the Primates don't have a role in the life of the Communion such that one of them deciding to miss a meeting is of great significance. If one or more choose to walk apart (to coin a phrase), that would certainly diminish their own gathering, but it surely cannot be counted as a tragic event for the Anglican Communion.

Enough with the exaggerated importance of meetings and reports. Let's get on with being witnesses for Christ in the world.

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